The two men at the center of a college sports betting controversy now face placement on an “involuntary” list that will prevent them from Ohio sports betting.
Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler told commissioners at a meeting Wednesday that Bert Neff Jr. and former University of Alabama coach Brad Bohannon received two-page letters Tuesday informing them the state agency intends to place them on the Sports Gaming Involuntary Exclusion List.
On April 28, Neff, an Indiana resident with connections to college baseball, attempted to place a six-figure wager on LSU in a baseball game against Alabama at the BetMGM Ohio sportsbook in Cincinnati. According to media reports, Neff learned from Bohannon the Crimson Tide’s scheduled starting pitcher would not play in the game. Surveillance footage from the sportsbook showed Neff was in contact with Bohannon when trying to place a wager.
“The notices were issued because their actions call into question the honesty and integrity of sports gaming in the state of Ohio, the orderly conduct of sports gaming and the operations,” Schuler said.
Neff and Bohannon have 30 days to request a hearing presided over by an independent officer. If the men are added to the list, they will be on it permanently, OCCC Director of Communications Jessica Franks told BetOhio.com Wednesday.
The commission blocked all wagers on Alabama baseball after Neff’s attempted wagers, a step several other states also took. On Wednesday, Schuler said the state would lift that prohibition after the meeting.
Exclusion List Created in Sports Betting Law
When Ohio lawmakers passed a sports betting law nearly two years ago, they included a provision establishing the Sports Gaming Involuntary Exclusion List. It gives the OCCC the power to ban individuals who regulators determine pose a threat to gaming integrity if they are in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook or attempting to place a wager online inside the state. The commission may consider several factors, including the individual’s reputation, in deciding whether to add someone to the list.
Ohio lawmakers took additional steps to protect game integrity and athlete safety when they passed the state budget earlier this year. That measure includes a ban on betting for anyone who threatens an athlete over a bet they placed. The issue arose after University of Dayton men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant said, shortly after legal Ohio betting apps began in the state, that several of his players were harassed after the Flyers lost a game.
Commission Grants License Extensions
Also, during Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners voted to give an extension to 17 approved sports betting operators and proprietors who have yet to start taking bets in the state.
Under the sports betting law, operators approved for either a brick-and-mortar sportsbook or an online sports betting license had one year from the Jan. 1 start date to begin taking bets. The extensions give them until June 30, 2024, to open or launch.
OCCC Director of Licensing Anna Marin Russell said the extensions would give those licensees “sufficient time to make appropriate business decisions and become operational” in the state.
“Based on our discussions with the operators over these last six months, staff has learned that while some proprietors and service providers have yet to find partners, others are facing different challenges, such as impacts to third-party providers due to geopolitical conflicts abroad, as well as construction delays and ongoing litigation,” Russell explains. “So due to the investment in the application and license fees by these proprietors and some of the unique challenges in launching during the inaugural year of legalized sports wagering, staff believes it is in the best public interest to extend the timeframe.”
The commission may grant additional extensions beyond June 30, although Russell said staffers hope that won’t be necessary.